Chalk it up to rock bottom expectations, but “It” blew me away when it arrived in theaters mainly because it exceeded my expectations and proved to be a stellar film all around. Andres Muschetti already killed it with his adaptation of his short “Mama,” but he brings his same sensibility in another coming of age tale where pure evil meets innocence. “It” is a masterstroke of a reboot, a movie that pays tribute to the original novel and re-invents every aspect from the ground up for a new audience without dumbing down the material.
Taking the classic novel and setting it in the late eighties, “It” is set in Derry Maine where a group of kids are brought together after a series of incidents involving missing children around their town go unanswered. Motivated to find the latest missing child is Bill, an aspiring author with a speech impediment whose small brother Georgie went missing only months before. Little does he or any of them know Georgie was victimized by a supernatural monster disguised as a clown known as Pennywise. As they dig deeper in to the disappearance, they begin to peel layers of their town back, revealing centuries of violence, corruption, murder, and a sick curse known as Pennywise whose seemingly orchestrated it all.
But Pennywise is intent on stopping them before they ruin his efforts to feed on the town’s children. While “It” is a horror movie, it’s also a very evocative and gripping coming of age drama about a small group of neglected and tormented kids known as “The Loser’s Club” forced to confront the ultimate evil. Muschetti is clearly an actor’s director, and he compiles a collective of remarkable performances from his entire young cast including stand outs Jaeden Lieberher and Sophia Lillis. And while Tim Curry will always have a place in this horror fanatic’s heart as the original Pennywise, Bill Skarsgård is incredible as the new Pennywise, a relentless, perverse, formless, and monstrous force of evil who delights in preying on children.
“It” embraces what’s so great about Stephen King’s original novel, and re-invents some aspects for a broader audience. Thankfully the material never suffers and only excels. The best horror movie of 2017, the best movie of 2017, and my biggest surprise of 2017 comes to blu-ray and DVD to help shock a new brand of movie lovers that enjoyed Stephen King’s re-invention of his epic novel.
Before the inevitable Director’s Cut, this edition comes with a DVD and Digital version. “Pennywise Lives!” is a seventeen minute great look at how Skarsgård took on the role of Pennywise, from his use of practical stunts and movements to the use of traditional clown make up for his face. There’s a look at how the crew didn’t meet Pennywise until they began filming, and how Skarsgård stayed in character. “The Losers’ Club” is another great sixteen minute look at the bond all of the kids formed over the course of filming “It” and their challenge filming emotional scenes.
“Author of Fear” is a fourteen minute discussion with Stephen King, who discusses writing his iconic novel, the true stories that inspired the novel, and characters. It’s a wonderful interview. Finally there are sixteen minutes of deleted, alternate and extended scenes definitely worth watching, with more glimpses at the abusive relationship with Henry Bowers and his father, and an extended scene involving the Bat-Mitzvah. There’s also a hilarious blooper involving Pennywise and Georgie you will surely appreciate.